Stephen, Sir James Fitzjames

Stephen, Sir James Fitzjames, 1829–94, English jurist and journalist; brother of Sir Leslie Stephen. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge and was admitted to the bar in 1854. After 1855 he wrote many articles on ethics, literature, and current topics for periodicals, and he was (1865–70) an important contributor to the Pall Mall Gazette. The study of jurisprudence, however, was his chief interest. He wrote A General View of the Criminal Law (1863) to expose certain legal anomalies. He served (1869–72) as the legal member of the viceroy's council in India, preparing a draft codification (later adopted) of the law relating to contracts, crime, and evidence. Parliament, however, never enacted his proposed codification of English criminal law. Stephen contrasted what he considered the efficient British rule of India with the inept government at home, and in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873) he deplored the extension of democracy in place of a more autocratic government. Stephen was (1879–91) a criminal court judge. He was made a baronet in 1891. His most famous work is his History of the Criminal Law of England (1883).

See biography by his brother Leslie Stephen (1895, repr. 1972); H. Potter, Historical Introduction to English Law and Its Institutions (4th ed. 1958).

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